"One size does not fit all students," said the bill's sponsor, Senate Education and Youth Committee Chairman Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta. "I believe it has the potential to be a game-changer for students in the state of Georgia."
The bill, which was part of the Senate majority agenda, has been championed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and has the support of university and technical colleges leaders, as well as state schools Superintendent Richard Woods.
It also has strong support from business, and it has been touted as another method for filling some high-demand and hard-to-fill jobs needed for companies operating in the state. Those companies have said the lack of skilled workers has forced them to look outside Georgia for employees.
"This bill's in keeping with the White House's recognition of the importance of community colleges and technical colleges," said Senate Minority Whip Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, one of several Democrats who voiced support for the effort. "I think this is a bipartisan approach to make sure two-year schools are at the center of educating our young people."
The bill includes a provision requiring the Technical College System of Georgia to identify fields of study with critical needs or a shortage of trained workers and share the information with the state and local education leaders. Under the bill, participating students must be at least 16 years old.
SB 2 now goes to the state House for consideration.